Community rallies to find boy with autism who wandered away from home

Posted: Updated:

A South Brunswick boy who has autism is now home safe after he wandered away from home Wednesday night.

Ten-year-old Ethan is nonverbal. Police say that he was lost for nearly three hours after he ran out of his Larry Court home, chasing after his father’s car. The incident happened around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.

The family’s NEST doorbell camera recorded Ethan wandering off. Police say that the boy’s parents each thought that he was with the other parent. It wasn’t until the boy’s father returned home around 8:30 p.m. that they realized he was gone.

“Immediately that was a high-risk missing person and we pulled out all resources to be able to locate him,” says South Brunswick Deputy Police Chief Jim Ryan. “There were more than three-dozen firefighters, EMS and police officers searching the surrounding neighborhoods.”

A community alert was sent out to about 29,000 town residents to be on the lookout for Ethan. One of those people was Fazil Syed who was home watching television.

"He said that he felt compelled to help out. One, because he thought he could make a difference and two, because he has a niece who also has autism and he thought what would happen if that would happen to her? I'd want anyone to help out,” Ryan says.

Syed ultimately found Ethan standing near the wood line on Kingston Lane. In a 911 call, Syed said that Ethan was shaken up, but otherwise OK.

"We told [Mr. Syed] how grateful we were for his assistance. He really minimized it. He doesn't think he did a big deal but we think it's a huge deal,” says Ryan.

Ryan says that the response from the entire community was meaningful.

“It reassures you with all the news that's going on that there's a lot of really good people in our community and in our state,” he says.

Ethan was evaluated by EMS for his exposure to the cold, but will make a full recovery.

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